About Dave Neary

Dave Neary is part the Open Source and Standards team at Red Hat, driving adoption and community growth for projects including oVirt, RDO, a distribution of OpenStack for Red Hat-based operating systems, Gluster, and Fedora. Dave is currently concentrating on projects related to Network Function Virtualization and Software Defined Networking. Dave has been active in free and open source communities for more than 15 years as a consultant, community manager, trainer and developer. Find him on Twitter @nearyd

Don’t Lick the Cookie!

The phrase “cookie licking” has become popular in recent years to define a pattern which can be problematic in communities. Its meaning comes from a story: Mom makes a plate of cookies, and sets the on the table for the family. After everyone has had their cookies, there is one left on the plate. The cheeky child of the family wants to have the last cookie later, but has no confidence it will still be there when she comes back, so she grabs the cookie, licks it, and puts it back on the plate, secure in the knowledge that no-one else will want to eat it.

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Building Community Roadmaps

Road map imageA project roadmap is a valuable document for a community open source project. For growing projects, even when the developers are predominantly working for one company, the roadmap is invaluable and accomplishes a number of things at once:

  • It is a great tool for setting shared priorities and setting limits for what is in and out of scope for the project
  • It encourages the developer team to be transparent about planning and provides context for more discrete quantities of work
  • For engaged community members, it gives an opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the project, by suggesting features which are not on the roadmap, or by volunteering to develop features, which are included but not yet committed by the core team
  • Finally, for casual users of the project, and visitors evaluating whether they would like to use the project, it gives an idea of what is coming down the road

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Crafting an Open Source Product Strategy

chess “Should we open source this project?” An easy question to ask, and a hard one to answer. The goal of this article is not to answer the question, but maybe to give some tools that you can use to find the answer when the question arises.

The first question to ask is why the project leader is interested in open source in the first place. Typical answers might include “because we want a community” or “because we want to be the Firefox of our field.” But when you dig deeper, there may not be a clear understanding of how an open source project can benefit your company’s goals.

The creation of an open source strategy is about finding that benefit. In short, you want to understand why open sourcing this project will benefit the company.

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The Many Faces of the Community Manager

Many Faces The open source community manager is one of the most diverse roles in the industry. Each community manager has an opportunity to define their role and areas of focus based on their skills and interests, and on the specific needs of their community.

As a result, they are often not a natural fit in any part of a traditional software organisation, but have a dotted line relationship into a number of teams.

There are many traditional software and product development roles that a community manager can fill for an open source community.

Here are five I’d like to highlight:

  • Marketing
  • Partner/ecosystem development
  • Developer enablement
  • Product/release management
  • Product strategy

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Overcoming Culture Clash Part IV–Getting Started Toward Cultural Diversity

differing communication styles In the last article, we finally went beyond theory to some practical tips on how to improve communication in your community. In this article, we get even more practical, offering some easy to follow tips which will make a material difference in your communities.

There are two concrete things—one piece of advice for both community developers and individuals seeking to join a community, and one piece of advice for community projects interested in encouraging greater geographical diversity. Each one has a number of consequences.

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Overcoming Culture Clash Part III–Improving Communication Style to Uncover Unstated Assumptions

differing communication styles In the preceding article, we covered the six dimensions of culture according to Geert Hofstede, and explored the consequences that these dimensions may have on people’s cultural attitudes. In this article, we explore some more practical ways to uncover cultural assumptions through good communication.

Sociology theory is all well and good, but how can we apply this to interactions in our communities? Is it possible to apply Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory to real-life interactions in community projects?

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Overcoming Culture Clash Part II–Six Dimensions of Culture

Gluster logo In the previous article, we outlined how cultural dissonance can cause issues when cultures collide. In this article, we talk about what makes up cultural identity, and perhaps help you become more aware of your own cultural assumptions.

In "Cultures and Organizations", the sociologist Geert Hofstede identified six dimensions for characterizing a culture. The effects of these dimensions can be analyzed according to multiple characteristics of a culture, including education, social structure, political and economic systems, religious attitudes, traditions, and customs.

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Overcoming Culture Clash Part I–The Tragedy of Commonsense Morality

Communities are messy. What makes them messy is the relationships between the humans who make up those communities. Humans are complex beings, each with their own sets of experiences and assumptions which they bring into a relationship, and when the underlying assumptions about how the world works do not match, we get into trouble.

One colleague of mine has described culture as "the way that humans in a community actually do things." The things we say and do consciously are the tip of the iceberg—many of our reactions and feelings are unconscious, and based on underlying values and assumptions about society which we may not even be aware we have.

Editor’s Note: Speaker notes for FOSDEM 2017 talk in Community DevRoom (video included).

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OPNFV – Two Years In

OPNFV logo For anyone reading this who has been a parent, you will know that the most surprising thing about toddlers is how fast they change. You go away for a couple of weeks of business travel, and when you get back, there’s a different person waiting for you when you get home. And two years old is about the time when the rate of change is at its peak.

That is what OPNFV feels like now: we have navigated the early teething issues and reached a state where there is lots of change and lots of progress. We have labs on every continent, many active projects developing new NFV related functionality, three platform releases, and increasing industry interest. Two and a half years ago, NFV was a promising architecture concept. Today, operators are putting NFVi platforms into production, thanks in part to the work of OPNFV.

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Size and Change

Apple and Orange I have been thinking about how size can affect culture and adaptability of groups recently. The topic once again came up today in a talk about what makes a healthy community. The answer to that will depend on the community’s size and maturity. An open source project, in the words of one participant in one conversation I had recently on this subject, should have "the minimum level of structure to allow it to function effectively." I agree—just enough is the right amount. This article contains some ponderings on the relationship between size and communities, and some conclusions we can take from that.

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